Qualcomm unveils 5G mobile platform, Snapdragon 855

Qualcomm 855
The Snapdragon 855 will include an ultrasonic fingerprint solution supported under the device display. (Qualcomm)

A Super Snapdragon? That’s what Qualcomm unveiled with the Snapdragon 855 mobile platform during Day 1 of its Snapdragon Summit being held in Maui this week.  

Qualcomm is saving some details about the 855 for later, but it disclosed on stage Tuesday that it will feature the world’s first computer vision technology to enable “cutting edge” computational photography for even better photos and video. It features “industry-leading AI” and immersive extended reality, with up to three times the AI performance compared to the previous-generation mobile platform.

It also includes the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor, dubbed the “world’s first” commercial ultrasonic fingerprint solution supported under the device’s display. If the user’s finger is wet or oily, the 3D Sonic Sensor will accurately read the fingerprint through that, said Alex Katouzian, SVP and general manager of mobile at Qualcomm, during the keynote, which was livestreamed.

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Both Verizon and AT&T are showing off 5G at the summit. Nicola Palmer, chief network engineering officer and head of wireless networks at Verizon, emphasized that the operator will be the first to offer two 5G smartphones next year exclusive to Verizon, one from Motorola and another from Samsung.

RELATED: AT&T seeks OK for 5G demos in Atlanta, Hawaii

She also noted the advantage of being a first mover in 5G, something that for Verizon goes back to its leadership in LTE/4G. She also reminded everyone of the work that Verizon put into getting 5G where it is today, starting with partnerships in the 5G Technical Forum that Verizon created and that helped evolve the technology into the 3GPP spec.

Kevin Petersen, senior vice president of wireless product marketing at AT&T, used his time on stage to highlight 5G commercialization along with the industries and consumer experiences that will drive demand for the 5G mobile network.

In partnership with Verizon and AT&T, at the conference Samsung is showing a 5G device working on a live 5G network, a key proof point, said Justin Denison, SVP of Mobile Product Strategy and Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. Samsung is bringing one of the first 5G smartphones to the U.S. in the first half of 2019 thanks to the 855 chipset from Qualcomm that will unlock new and exciting interactions, such as the ability to do a 5G video call with crystal-clear pictures and no lag, he said. If you want to download a movie to your phone while walking onto a plane, for example, you could do that.

During his keynote, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon discussed the progress Qualcomm Technologies has shown on the path to commercialization of 5G, describing how 5G will be a commercial reality starting in early 2019 with mobile device launches and network rollouts across North America, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and China.

The Snapdragon Summit is a three-day event, and Qualcomm teased how more news is yet to come. Amon encouraged folks to stay tuned, as there’s an interesting event related to China Mobile coming in the next few days.